CRAIG HOPE: Why would Newcastle consider selling fan favourite Allan Saint-Maximin? If £50m offer helped them strengthen elsewhere and stay ahead of spending rules then it would be considered
- Allan Saint-Maximin has been a favourite among supporters at Newcastle
- But Magpies are considering selling him this summer for a potential £50million
- They want to generate funds to make sure they comply with spending rules
- There has been some debate over whether the team is better without Frenchman
Why would Newcastle United consider selling a player who is a favourite of supporters and, on his day, one of the most exciting in the Premier League?
Sources say the club could be open to offers for Allan Saint-Maximin this summer, with a fee in the region of £50million mooted.
The answer to the above is multi-layered but, primarily, lies in the want to generate funds to stay ahead of spending regulations.
Allan-Saint Maximin is a fan favourite but could leave Newcastle in the summer
It may surprise some given the wealth behind the Saudi-led ownership, but there is talk of an initial transfer budget of around £60-80million this summer being supplemented by player sales, with the purchase of a striker the absolute priority.
The new owners are yet to bring in extra revenue by way of commercial deals and those inside St James’ Park accept that all options must be explored when it comes to reshaping the squad, even if that does throw up shock departures along the way.
There is also the consideration of Saint-Maximin’s camp having recently floated the idea of a pay rise. The club, it is said, believe the six-year deal he signed in 2020 to be sufficient reward for now.
Eddie Howe has a good relationship with the Frenchman and sees him as a challenge
But what about Eddie Howe? The head coach has not pushed for the Frenchman to be sacrificed and wants to keep a player of such talent. He said last week he sees a long-term future for him at the club. The pair have a good relationship and only time-keeping and occasional disregard of dress code have been a cause for concern for the manager.
Yes, Howe sees him as a challenge, but one he is willing to embrace. His current system is designed to accommodate the forward, whose enthusiasm for defensive duty will never warm much beyond tepid. Joelinton, always deployed in a midfield three on the side closest to Saint-Maximin, covered for him brilliantly during the start of a recent eight-match unbeaten run, taking Newcastle from 19th to comfortably clear of danger.
But Saint-Maximin, through a combination of injury and illness, made only one substitute appearance during the final four of those games, a period which yielded 10 points. It has led to some debate as to whether the team is better with or without the 25-year-old.
The foward can occasionally frustrate but also produces moments of magic
One opinion is that Saint-Maximin is a good player for a bad manager, yet potentially a bad player for a good manager.
The theory being that his ability to win a match on his own lends itself to a side found wanting for strategy. Within a stronger team structure and with an identifiable plan, however, he could be a point of weakness, especially given issues over consistency.
This is also why generating a market for Saint-Maximin could be difficult – the very top teams are unlikely to be interested and those who are will not pay £50m.
Saint-Maximin does not need to be sold but the club are not closed off to the idea
But what you cannot deny is his skill, pace and the terror he can spread in an opposition defence.
Even during Friday’s 1-0 victory over Wolves he had frustrated for the large part, only to provide the flick leading to the winning penalty. He is charismatic and immensely popular among supporters, the majority of whom will argue it is a worry if he needs to be sold.
The point is, Newcastle do not need to sell him. But if a calculation is made and there is a feeling that the sale of any player would represent value and allow other areas to be strengthened significantly, then even the likes of Saint-Maximin will not be immune.